A Horse Without A Harness

By Greg Quinn

November 16th, 2011

I’ve always liked horses.  There was always something about the beauty, majesty, and power of a horse that attracted me.  A horse standing still is majestic; a horse running is a thing of beauty. 

Horses are powerful.  Horses were some of our first methods of transportation.  In fact, the power of an automobile still to this day is rated in terms of “horse-power”.

As a child (and today) some of my favorite movies and shows were westerns.  My heroes rode heroic horses.  John Wayne couldn’t have been as successful without his horses.  Gene Autry, the “singing cowboy”, had a beautiful horse.  The Lone Ranger had an incredible steed, Silver.  And who could forget Roy Rogers with his great horse, Trigger!  One of the most beautiful scenes in any movie I remember was at the end of the Robert Redford movie, "The Electric Horseman", where the multi-million dollar horse was let loose to run with the rest of its kin.

My uncle Hambone raised horses, and I remember being around him, my cousins Butch and Dwayne, and his horses as a child.  I remember Uncle Hambone raise me up on one of those big ol' animals and leading me around the pasture a number of times.  I also remember the mental impact when I saw my cousin Joe sail backwards from the physical impact of a horse kick. 

I remember Dad having a horse one time, and a mule another time, to plow our fields.  Before having a tractor, a horse was used to till the soil, plant the seed, and pull the wagon for harvest.

I enjoy horse races to this day.  The Kentucky Derby and others, that feature the fastest and most beautiful of racehorses, is a fantastic event.  When the gun sounds and the gates open and the horses run following the leadership of their small jockey, it is a beautiful and exciting experience.

I wanted a horse as a child for a very long time.  Finally, when we moved from Tennessee to Kentucky for a few years for Dad to pastor a church there, Jeff and I received the promised horse.  Flicka, a Shetland pony.  I remember riding Flicka and in doing so was a combination of the Lone Ranger, Roy Rogers, and John Wayne all rolled into one small four-eyed boy. 

With my own horse, and in watching Uncle Hambone with his horses, I discovered that the only way to control the direction and power of the horse was with a bridle or harness.  Without a bridle and bit, or harness, to force the horse to do what the rider wanted the horse to do, the horse would run wild.  The horse would run without direction.  The horse would follow its own will instead of the will of the rider, and therefore would not take the rider where he wanted to go.  Without the harness, the horse wouldn’t plow the field.  Without the harness, the horse wouldn’t win the race.  The power and direction of the horse, as well as the accomplishments of the animal, were determined by the harness.  And, the horse had to give up its own will, and submit to the will of the rider, through the harness.

We men and women are not horses, but we are not much different.  Without a harness, we run lives without direction.  Without a harness, we follow our own will which often gets us in trouble.  Without a harness, we make mistakes, get ourselves in dangerous situations, and miss the mark of the success that could be obtained.  While we don’t want to admit it, we are not disciplined enough on our own, so we need to be led by one more powerful and all-knowing than ourselves.  To achieve our success, to gain our accomplishments, to keep from running wild and without direction, we too need a harness.

Men and women who think they can live life on earth without a harness, without direction, most often fail.  See, we all will be led one way or another.  We have an instinct within us that recognizes there is one greater than ourselves, and so we seek things without to mend the desires within.  This often results in being led in directions other than those we would have chosen had we given the matter greater consideration.  Or paid greater attention as to who was leading us, who held the harness.  We will be led by other people.  We will be led by Satan.  Or, we can be led by God.

Romans 6:22-23 says, “But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life.  For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through out Jesus Christ our Lord.”

We were all born into sin.  None of us are perfect.  We all do wrong.  We all make mistakes.  And, more importantly, we all fall short of the expectations of God, our Creator.  This sin keeps us from a relationship with a holy God.  While we may try to do good on our own, none of us can be good enough to win favor with God, because of our sin.  So in the process, we either look to ourselves, we look to others, we unknowingly look to Satan, or we consciously look to God.

Whomever we look to, we follow directions from.  And whomever we follow directions from leads us.  And whomever leads us holds the harness.

Some of us follow ourselves.  We think that we can do good enough on our own.  We desire success and think that within ourselves we have everything we need to achieve this success.  We work and exert and push through and desire to obtain any and all accomplishments through only our own determination and will.  We hold our own harness.  While we may gain some level of accomplishment, how much greater could that have been had we moved with direction.  Just as a horse cannot lead itself, neither can we.  With no one holding the reins, the horse runs wild.  As do we. 

Sometimes we hand the reins to another person.  We hand over entirely the control of our lives to another human. While there are periods of our life when we succumb to another’s leadership, we do not hand the control of our lives to another person.  Why?  All men are sinful, and one man leading another man could land both in the ditch. Don’t hand your harness to another man.

Often we think we are holding our own harness, yet we have actually handed the reins to another.  Most often, in the attempt to be our own person, to be the self-made man who needs no other, Satan sets a snare that we fall into readily.  While we think we are self-led, we are most often led by the Devil himself, whose desire it is to destroy us.  So, we run hard, not knowing that we are being led by Satan to an end of despair and destruction.

We all, as humans, run with sin holding the reins of our lives.

In the scripture above, we learn that we can be made free from sin, free from following the Devil, free from being led astray by others.   How? Only by handing the harness to God.

The rewards of being led by self, others, or Satan is destruction.  The rewards of being led by God is, as indicated in this passage of Scripture and many others, “fruit of holiness and everlasting life”.

So what do we do?  We recognize that left alone, we will run like a horse with no harness.  We will run a life without direction, without accomplishment, without meaning.  We will run a life led by others and by the Devil, and we will run a life led by sin.  The sin in our lives will overcome us, and cause us to do things of which we are not proud, things to damage us and others around us, and in the end will cause us to lose the promises of life eternal and submit to the everlasting penalties of Hell.  That’s life without a harness.

In contrast, by handing the harness to God, we receive the rewards that a loving God wants to give unto his children.  We gain success on earth as promised in the Bible.  We reap the benefits of good crops, not bad.  We enjoy life on earth, and have the promises of life eternal with God our father, and His Son Jesus Christ our Lord, in Heaven.

Don’t run another day to and fro in a life without direction.  Don’t run another day with the reins in the hand of another man, or in the hands of Satan.  Hand the harness to God.  Receive the many good promises of God in this life, and in the life hereafter. 

Don’t be a horse without a harness.  Give God the reins.  Then you can run the race of life as a champion.

Greg Quinn